Most Important Skill of Effective Communicators
Most Important Skill of Effective Communicators
Best practices in workplace communication: What is the most important skill of effective communicators?
The importance of communication in the well being of an organization can never be underestimated. In fact, it has a bearing on the long-term sustainability of an organization as it allows managers to execute varied fundamental functions pertaining to management including planning, controlling, organizing and leading. It comes in handy in enhancing the capacity of managers to execute their duties and responsibilities. It goes without saying that all essential communication has to be from and to the managers, in which case it has a bearing on the implementation of decisions (Sipe & Frick, 2009). It is worth noting, however, that communication underlines varied skills. While all of them are fundamental in the achievement of the varied functions of communication, there are variations in their importance. Given the fundamental role it plays in communication, Listening skills come as the most crucial communication skill.
There exists no universal or cross-cutting definition of listening skills. However, listening may be defined as a term that encompasses the process incorporating five elements including hearing, comprehension, attending, responding, as well as remembering (Sipe & Frick, 2009). It is worth noting that listening goes beyond hearing the words being spoken by another individual and necessitates skills, as well as practice so as to enhance its effectiveness (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser, 2012). Social theorists explain listening in terms of a conscious effort that an individual makes pertaining to who, when, what, how, and why listening may be attained. In business enterprises, listening comes as a fundamental element to building an effective working relationship between the management and staff, as well as among the employees. Listening skills also have an impact on the interactions of an organization with other businesses and customers. What makes listening skills the most important skills in communication is the fact that it serves the same purposes as communication.
First, listening comes as one of the most effective ways of gaining information and facts about any fundamental aspect of a business. It enhances the capacity of an individual to acquire facts, which he or she can then use in making decisions that enhance the sustainability of the business both in the long term and the short term (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser, 2012). Communication does not merely involve talking to other people or telling them what to do, rather it involves the exploration of all ideas from the people and evaluating all aspects pertaining to them. Deliberations can only be done through listening to other peoples’ ideas and sharing thoughts, which then leas to the determination of the best course of action (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser, 2012). In essence, communication can never occur without listening, which makes it the most fundamental or important skill of effective communication.
In addition, listening plays a crucial role in establishing trust between two or more individuals. This happens in all environments, not just in organizations or workplace environment. It goes without saying that there is considerable difficulty in trusting an individual who does not seem to listen, especially considering that one can never tell whether such an individual has the overall objectives of the organization at heart. It is worth noting that the smooth running of affairs in an organization cannot occur unless the players trust each other’s capabilities. This only occurs when individuals listen to each other. Developing trust in most organizations involves paying close attention to instructions given by superiors or the ideas of other people. Listening to other people in an organization would enlighten an individual about those people’s weaknesses and strengths with regard to the project, which allows for collaboration in a manner that would optimize the strengths of the entire group.
On the same note, listening plays a crucial role in lowering the probability for occurrence of conflict. While there are varied reasons for the occurrence of conflicts in different environments, the most probable cause is that an individual feel that he or she has been misunderstood. It is worth noting that listening does not merely entail hearing the words and comprehending them, rather it also encompasses paying attention to any nonverbal cues that an individual may give. In essence, listening allows an individual to comprehend the entirety of a message and also ask questions in instances where he or she does not understand especially in case nonverbal cues contradict the words being said (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser, 2012). On the same case, listening allows for the ironing out of differences as soon as possible, thereby reducing the risk of occurrence of conflicts. This reduces the probability for misunderstanding in an organization by allowing for effective communication, which subsequently results in conducive working environment.
In addition, listening enhances satisfaction from both customers and workers or employees. This is especially considering that, when organizations or institutions listen to the concerns of their customers and workers, they gain the capacity to understand, as well as relate to them, in which case they can now remedy the issues or improve the areas where they may be performing dismally (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser, 2012). This is closely linked to building trust in an organization as subordinates and customers learn to trust, as well as rely on the capacity of their leaders to solve their issues. It goes without saying that such actions would make employees and customers to feel respected, leading to enhanced satisfaction and loyalty to the company.
On the same note, it is one of the ways in which a leader would motivate his subordinates or the subjects of his communication (Sipe & Frick, 2009). In most cases, employees see themselves as outsiders even when they have been working in an organization for a long time. This has a negative effect on their morale and productivity in the short- and long-term. Such emotions in the workplace can be eliminated through listening to the concerns of the subordinates. Listening allows a leader to discover the aspects that their subordinates find rewarding or challenging. The attention gives subordinates the idea that they are respected or held with high regard in the organization, in which case they feel as part and parcel of the organization (Sipe & Frick, 2009). This allows them to identify with the organization and own the duties and responsibilities for which they are entrusted, thereby owning the processes. It gives them the impression that the leader is genuinely concerned about their views and opinions. Listening results in the development of strong relationships between leaders and their subordinates or communicators and their audiences, especially considering that the parties involved are interested in producing a win-win situation (Stewart, 2009). It allows the concerned parties to have a clear comprehension of the expectations and responsibilities that each party has, thereby ensuring that they meet their responsibilities. Needles to say, it is one of the fundamental techniques of maintaining reputation and respect for a leader or organization (Sipe & Frick, 2009). Effective communication occurs in instances where individuals respect each other, an element that is best exemplified through listening to each other and responding appropriately. Communication is all about establishing a relationship with the audience, which can only be established in an environment of respect as underlined by listening.
Needless to say, effective communication can never occur without the outlined aspects. Most of the other skills of communication do not incorporate these aspects, as encompassed by the listening skill. This makes listening the most crucial skill of effective communicators.
In conclusion, communication is a fundamental aspect in the long-term sustainability of any organization. While effective communication encompasses varied skills, listening skill comes as the most crucial. Listening fosters an environment of trust between two people, in which case they know what they should expect from each other, as well as the responsibilities and duties that they have for each other (Sipe & Frick, 2009). In addition, it fosters an environment of satisfaction in the knowledge that the other party has one’s interests in his or her heart, and has at least considered other people’s opinions. It is worth noting that any effective communication has its basis as respect, which is hard to accomplish without the incorporation of listening skills. On the same note, it allows for enhanced understanding thereby eliminating the possibility of conflicts, which would have otherwise hindered effective communication. Listening also allows an individual to gain information and facts about any aspect, in which case any communication made would be based on the same (Sipe & Frick, 2009). Needless to say, effective communication is founded on the aspect of being factual, with the communicator being informed about the topic that he or she is exploring. These aspects underline the importance of the listening skill in enhancing the effectiveness of communicators.
Sipe, J. W., & Frick, D. M. (2009). Seven pillars of servant leadership. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
Stewart, J. (2009). Bridges not walls: A book about interpersonal communication. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Worthington, D. L. & Fitch-Hauser, M. E. (2012). Listening: Processes, functions and competency. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon